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OpinionEditorial

New York shouldn’t shun Tesla

Protectionism only works to serve the powerful interests it protects — not the consumers.

In this April 1, 2015, file photo shows

In this April 1, 2015, file photo shows the Tesla Motors showroom in Salt Lake City. Photo Credit: AP / Rick Bowmer

Tesla, the electric-car company, is challenging the traditional automobile industry model. Not only does it eliminate trips to the gas station, it is also changing the way cars are sold and serviced.

Tesla wants to do as much business on Long Island as it can, including selling storage batteries and solar panels, but the forces that support the established way of doing business are powerful.

In 2014, traditional car dealerships in New York tried to stop Tesla, via state legislation, from selling cars through its own stores. A compromise allowed Tesla five stores statewide, one of which is at the Americana Manhasset shopping center. It’s not enough, particularly with the first mass-produced Tesla, the $35,000 Model 3, scheduled to begin arriving later this year, and more than 400,000 of them already have been reserved by customers nationwide.

Now a bill before the State Legislature would allow Tesla to quadruple its sales locations to 20 statewide. It would require that five be built upstate, but Tesla executives say several of the other locations would land on Long Island, which they see as the driving capital of the state.

Traditional dealers are again fighting the expansion. Their argument that raising the cap could cost jobs at traditional dealerships is unproven. And their claim, that customers would benefit if Teslas had to be sold through independent dealerships because customers could shop on price, makes no sense, as Teslas are sold at the same price worldwide.

Protectionism only works to serve the powerful interests it protects, not the consumers, and it shouldn’t be tolerated. The State Legislature should increase the limit on Tesla stores.

— The editorial board

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